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Scientists Stack Up New Genes For Height

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the how's-the-weather-up-there dept.

Medicine 66

An anonymous reader writes "An international team of researchers, including a number from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill schools of medicine and public health, have discovered hundreds of genes that influence human height. Their findings confirm that the combination of a large number of genes in any given individual, rather than a simple 'tall' gene or 'short' gene, helps to determine a person's stature. It also points the way to future studies exploring how these genes combine into biological pathways to impact human growth."

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/groan (1)

Godskitchen (1017786) | more than 4 years ago | (#33752808)

"The consortium, aptly named GIANT for Genetic Investigation of ANthropometric Traits."

-_-

Re:/groan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33752882)

Coming up with a better name must have been a tall order for them.

Re:/groan (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753232)

Let's come up with a new one for them in short order.

Re:/groan (1, Troll)

great om (18682) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753608)

Short jokes are the lowest form of humor.

Re:/groan (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | about 4 years ago | (#33754870)

Now, now, size isn't everything.

Re:/groan (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 4 years ago | (#33755772)

Just in time, people tell me I'm a yard too short for my weight.

Re:/groan (2, Funny)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753366)

Could be worse (Consortium Of University Liberals Detecting Biological Entitities Which Organise Rare Systemic Enhancements)

1st use (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#33752850)

I'll bet the first use of this information will be for herbal v14gr4 advertisements.

Re:1st use (1)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#33752906)

I'll bet the first use of this information will be for herbal v14gr4 advertisements.

I bet the internet trolls will use it first.

OT (your username) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33753452)

so.. howcome you didn't sue Lucas for using your image in those godawful prequels? :)

You were pretty cool when Elmore drew you, but why'd you let Lucas turn you into an idiot with a jamaican accent?

I know, I know (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 4 years ago | (#33752936)

I should really be worried about Gattacaish stuff instead of looking forward to gene therapies to cure us 5'6"ers of our affliction; women in clubs and bars don't look for a sense scientific morality though.

Re:I know, I know (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753204)

Maybe you should look elsewhere for women.

Re:I know, I know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33753318)

Maybe you should look elsewhere for women.

That's what she said... :(

Re:I know, I know (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753732)

Like under the bar stools?

Re:I know, I know (3, Funny)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753784)

Perhaps his local Lollipop Guild Annual Charity Chili Cookoff?

Re:I know, I know (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753292)

How is scientific morality any different from normal morality? If it's wrong, don't do it.

Re:I know, I know (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753344)

Learning what genes do what isn't Gattaca-ish, it's scientific progress. Gattaca-ish only occurs when you start to say that only people with certain genes can do certain jobs. And really, even in the movie the job in question was space ship pilot for crying out loud. You can bet your ass that astronauts today get screened in every way possible, up to and including analyzing their family histories (which is really just very primitive genetic screening when you get down to it), and they aren't even responsible for hundreds of civilian lives as the pilots in the movie were.

Re:I know, I know (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753540)

Learning what genes do what isn't Gattaca-ish, it's scientific progress.

The previous poster never said that Gattaca type things were happening now, but wrote that they should be concerned about such things, as in this makes the potential more likely. I strongly suspect they were talking about genetically engineering our offspring and the potential negative consequences; one of the movie's main themes.

Re:I know, I know (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753388)

women in clubs and bars don't look for a sense scientific morality though.

You know, I think you may have just identified the single overriding factor that will determine humanity's destiny, at least in terms of biology.

Re:I know, I know (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753536)

women in clubs and bars don't look for a sense scientific morality though.

Well, there's you're problem. You should try looking for ones behind, not in, bars.

What? I have low standards. So sue me.

Re:I know, I know (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753684)

I don't judge anyone. You just keep on... uh, doin' whatever it is that you're doin', man.

Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33752950)

Is there any evidence of epigenetic factors [hudsonalpha.org] , like mother's or father's diet before or during gestation, that influence height? Can you eat different for taller children?

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Kristopeit, Michael (1892492) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753146)

what about feet binding? how does feet binding influence height?

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753420)

It changes height a little, depending on how the feet are bound, but that has absolutely nothing to do with epigenetics, about which you evidently know nothing.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753580)

MK is just a moronic internet tough-guy troll. No need to feed him...

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (0, Troll)

Kristopeit, Mike Da. (1905342) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753758)

ur mum's face is a moronic internet tough-guy troll.

you know who quote other people in their signatures? people with nothing to say for themselves. -- Mike Kristopeit on Red Flayer (890720)

you are NOTHING.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Kristopeit, Michael (1892492) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753726)

my point is the same as yours, and probably stems from the same nova special... no one thing influences any one thing solely.

you evidently have no grasp on simple logical implication.

you're an idiot.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33757496)

edrugtrader (442064) [slashdot.org]
  madddddddddd (1710534) [slashdot.org]
  Michael Kristopeit (1751814) [slashdot.org]
  Michael D Kristopeit (1887500) [slashdot.org]
  M. D. Kristopeit (1890086) [slashdot.org]
  M. Kristopeit (1890764) [slashdot.org]
  Kristopeit, Michael (1892492) [slashdot.org]
  Kristopeit, M. D. (1892582) [slashdot.org]
  Mike Kristopeit (1900306) [slashdot.org]
  Mike D. Kristopeit (1900568) [slashdot.org]
  Kristopeit, Mike D. (1900570) [slashdot.org]
  MichaelDavKristopeit (1905312) [slashdot.org]
  Mike Dav. Kristopeit (1905334) [slashdot.org]
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  Mike Da. Kristopeit (1905338) [slashdot.org]
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Re:Epigenetics Programming? (2, Interesting)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753418)

There's lots of room for all sorts of other factors. These genes account for only 10% of the height difference:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100929132529.htm [sciencedaily.com]

This study wasn't designed to look for epigenetic factors. It was basically: line up a lot of people, measure 'em, and give 'em a quick gene scan. (Not a full sequencing, necessarily; it was a meta-study to get the maximum data, and they needed hundreds of thousands.) That genetic scan doesn't tell you anything epigenetic.

The rest is a lot of math. And in the end they accounted for only a small part of the overall variation. 10% is still interesting, but not nearly enough to merit the kind of headlines this gets.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753762)

The really interesting thing is that if you take both parents' height, you can predict a child's final height within a narrow range (using midparental height). It is estimated that genes a responsible for about 60-80% [wikipedia.org] of the human variation in height, and yet after all the research that has been done, and the hundreds of genes found, we can only account for 10% of the human variation. This means that in addition to those hundreds, there are hundreds, if not thousands, more who have a smaller role in determining about 50-70% of our final height. Talk about the long tail.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

stretch0611 (603238) | about 4 years ago | (#33755642)

The really interesting thing is that if you take both parents' height, you can predict a child's final height within a narrow range (using midparental height).

Uh, No...

My mother is 5'9", My father is 5'10". What test based on them would predict my height of 6'11"? (Or my two brothers at 6'5" and 6'8".) An accurate and reliable test based on parents height does not exist. And no, I do not have a pituitary disorder. (One Dr that I no longer see, sent me for those tests in order to generate more revenue; the results were all normal, my pituitary gland works properly.)

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | about 4 years ago | (#33755806)

I just love it when you take an anecdotal case and use it to disprove a general statement.
Midparental height can predict the range of a child's final height (with the height within that range governed by environmental variables). Of course, this range is X SD. I believe this is 2 SD, (but citation needed) and so it means that 5% of children will be outside of the predicted range - 2.5% above and 2.5% below.
Congratulations, you are a statistical deviant; Welcome to Slashdot.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Kilrah_il (1692978) | about 4 years ago | (#33755810)

And one more thing:

What test based on them would predict my height of 6'11"? (Or my two brothers at 6'5" and 6'8".)

The neighbor test? How tall is he? :)

Or the milkman? (1)

DABANSHEE (154661) | about 4 years ago | (#33759088)

Then there's the utility meter reader or (in Yank parlance) the cable guy.

Actually one thing I did notice at high school was that it seemed virtually all the tall kids were gluttonous milk drinkers.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

F'Nok (226987) | about 4 years ago | (#33755962)

Apparently you've never heard of outliers.
Your anecdote doesn't disprove basically everyone else that it holds true for.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (3, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753548)

Can you eat different for taller children?

Sure, and you probably should. Taller children require larger roasting pans, and sometimes even bigger ovens. You could instead do them on a spit over a fire, but if you need to scrunch them up on the axle of your spit (since they are taller), it's going to affect how evenly they cook.

Oh... for taller children. My bad.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

mirix (1649853) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753568)

I think so. My father's generation (born during WWII, in a fairly hard hit region) seems to average at least 6 inches shorter than the generations born in the years after, when food was ample and nutritious.

Maybe socialism made them taller (This was pinko Yugoslavia) ;-)

I think I recall hearing that Montenegro (also ex-yu) has the tallest avg. population in the world. Not sure how true that is, but I do notice a lot of tall people in ex-yu.

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33754296)

I hear ya, I grew up in New York City on a healthy diet of hot dogs, beans, microwave dinners and frozen chicken nuggets, I'm 5'4. My brother ate a lot of real nutritious meat (4 years younger) and healthy food as my grandmother moved in us during that time after I was about 10 and he's about 5'8. Food quality really matters. Look at the Texans and all their beef, those guys are fucking huge!

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | about 4 years ago | (#33756160)

Sorry, we Dutchies are still #1 on that front I'm afraid, with the Danes coming in second. :)

Re:Epigenetics Programming? (1)

Lhooqtoo (876551) | about 4 years ago | (#33875504)

There is almost certainly an epigenetic effect. The latest buzz is that there is no genetics without epigenetics. However, the size of the effect must be less than the 80% that is attributable to genes (and yes, that figure is pretty robust). The real problem is having the data to measure the epigenetic effects from studies that have already been conducted. If the study of epigenetic factors wasn't part of the original study design, it's awfully hard to model these effects as an afterthought in a meta analysis.

Anton's Key (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33753200)

What you change for height could cause adverse effects elsewhere... I am a little scared of the possibilities of screwing with genes

Re:Anton's Key (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753358)

Only a little? I think it's a promising field but I'm all out terrified about what they'll cook up.

Re:Anton's Key (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753448)

I think it's a promising field but I'm all out terrified about what they'll cook up.

Rarrr. Rarr-rarr, moo rarr.

you call this weather? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#33753268)

yes, it would be complete nonsense to make made to order 'people', so that's what we'll do next? iron out the 'imperfections'; individuality, morality/conscience, dissidence, etc.... get ready to meet jahbulon, or at least its' hired goons..

the search continues;
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google.com/search?hl=en&source=hp&q=bush+cheney+wolfowitz+rumsfeld+wmd+freemason+oil+blair+obama+weather+authors

meanwhile (as it may take a while longer to finish wrecking this place); the corepirate nazi illuminati (who claim that we came from monkeys, & they DIDN'T?) is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their (slippery/slimy) 'platform' now. see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisocial_personality_disorder

never a better time to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

greed, fear & ego (in any order) are unprecedented evile's primary weapons. those, along with deception & coercion, helps most of us remain (unwittingly?) dependent on its' life0cidal hired goons' agenda. most of our dwindling resources are being squandered on the 'wars', & continuation of the billionerrors stock markup FraUD/pyramid schemes. nobody ever mentions the real long term costs of those debacles in both life & any notion of prosperity for us, or our children. not to mention the abuse of the consciences of those of us who still have one, & the terminal damage to our atmosphere (see also: manufactured 'weather', hot etc...). see you on the other side of it? the lights are coming up all over now. the fairytail is winding down now. let your conscience be your guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. we now have some choices. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on your brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

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"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

GATTACA? (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753334)

I don't see the GATTACA connection here, other than a knee-jerk response to any DNA discoveries. There are easier ways to determine (with high confidence, though not certainty) whether someone has genes encoding for being tall. A measuring tape, for instance.

Re:GATTACA? (2, Informative)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753576)

I don't see the GATTACA connection here, other than a knee-jerk response to any DNA discoveries.

If we know what genes encode desirable traits, that is the first step towards genetically altering offspring to have those traits... ala Gattaca. This isn't about knowing who has the genes for tallness, but about the potential of altering those genes so that people who do not have altered genes are societally disadvantaged.

Re:GATTACA? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753944)

...people who do not have altered genes are societally disadvantaged.

I think it would be more apt to say that those without altered genes would be physically disadvantaged. Socially speaking, the opposite may be true. Consider the fact that, historically, humans react negatively to those folks who are considered different. If gene alterations in offspring start occurring intentionally, then for quite awhile, the mass majority of people will still be natural-borns, if you will. As such, if there is any social discrimination (i.e. distinction based on gene manipulation) it will probably begin as a movement of the natural-borns discriminating against the genetically-derived. For quite awhile, therefore, it will be those whom are genetically derived that will be socially disadvantaged. Of course, a day may come when the genetically-derived have their own civil rights movement and, after a few generations of discrimination and hardship, they may win their social equality amongst their natural-born peers. Only after such a revolution occurs would it start to become possible for being a natural-born to be socially disadvantaged, because, until that point, all those natural-borns that already existed will remain sure that their means of birth was the better way all along. Historically speaking, at least, this is how socially advantaged/disadvantaged conflicts occur at least.

Re:GATTACA? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 4 years ago | (#33754880)

I think it would be more apt to say that those without altered genes would be physically disadvantaged.

Among men, height is the single most important characteristic for attractiveness, more so than intelligence, wealth, and physical fitness combined (both heterosexual and homosexuals attracted to men). For every inch of height, you can see a correlative increase in the average income of men. Since it is not likely not be required that people advertise that they have been genetically altered, those people who have been engineered to be taller will be at a significant advantage already. And from there it is only a matter of affordability until short people are a disadvantaged minority with all the current disadvantages combined and the stigma attached to characteristics mentally associated with being poor. In 20 years don't be surprised if short people are considered likely to be criminals by much of our society.

Re:GATTACA? (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#33759828)

Interesting, I'd never heard of those correlations or statistics. Do you have any references for that data? Or did it come from a text book from some old college class you took awhile back? I'd be very curious to read those studies.

Kinda Makes Sense (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753370)

Considering that a human's height is derived primarily from there bone dimensions (at least, I think that's the case), this would make sense. Frankly I would have been more surprised to find out that there was one master 'bone gene' that proportionally scaled all bone structures in the body.

Re:Kinda Makes Sense (2, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753426)

I would have been more surprised to find out that there was one master 'bone gene' that proportionally scaled all bone structures in the body.

Agreed. Especially since we can see plenty of species where the scaling has happened on individual limbs. Dinosaurs' short arms, fiddler crabs' long/large single arm, kangaroos' short arms and/or big legs, giraffe necks, etc...

Although a combination would be impressive; if there was a single scaling master gene, plus limb-/bone-leve adjustments, that would be a very flexible (no pun intended) setup, as good as one might set out to design.

Re:Kinda Makes Sense (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753854)

agreed, what we need to find though is the master boner length gene.

Anyone else read that as... (1)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753372)

..."genes to control human flight" and get really excited for a second?

Re:Anyone else read that as... (3, Funny)

Thing 1 (178996) | about 4 years ago | (#33754578)

No, I use a decent font.

Re:Anyone else read that as... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33756076)

On the other hand, a proper approved-by-typeface-nerds font would have an fl ligature that looks like an H.

Article link (2, Informative)

gringer (252588) | more than 4 years ago | (#33753902)

Took me a bit of time to find, but here's the link to the actual research paper (requires nature subscription):
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature09410.html [nature.com]

From the abstract:

Our data explain approximately 10% of the phenotypic variation in height, and we estimate that unidentified common variants of similar effect sizes would increase this figure to approximately 16% of phenotypic variation (approximately 20% of heritable variation)

The introduction of the paper states that "80% of the variation [for height] within a given population is estimated to be attributable to additive genetic factors, but over 40 previously published variants explain less than 5% of the variance." While this paper pushes that to 16%, it's nowhere near the limit of what can be detected.

I find it interesting that they've got a sample size of around 100,000 individuals for this study (actually a meta-analysis of summary statistics from 46 GWAS of 133,653 individuals), but still claim a need for more individuals. I suspect that'll still be said when a study is done on 10 million individuals, or a billion.

True, but... (2, Insightful)

Pedrito (94783) | more than 4 years ago | (#33754370)

While I have no doubt it's true that a large number of genes contribute to height, it's very likely there are a handful of genes that have a significantly larger effect than the rest. It's a simple matter of statistics. If you have 100 genes that all have, more or less, the same small contribution, then there would be exceedingly few people who were over 6' and the distribution of heights would be most people very close to the same height and only a handful of outliers. You also wouldn't have unusual heights being very heritable (which they are). There must be just a few genes that have a much more significant effect than others.

Re:True, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33755728)

There must be just a few genes that have a much more significant effect than others.

Citation Needed

(You are wrong. Stop making things up)

Re:True, but... (1)

Nyh (55741) | about 4 years ago | (#33756540)

Genes determine what is possible. But the environment determines whether these possibilities actually happen. In case of height I think food is very important for the expression of the genes.

Nyh

Lewontin's fallacy (1)

hessian (467078) | about 4 years ago | (#33755650)

As far as I know, there are no single genes for general traits like height, intelligence, race, etc. Claiming that one exists is a new form of logical fallacy, named after one of the most egregious abusers:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lewontin's_Fallacy [wikipedia.org]

Now if we can just train our media to stop talking about "the height gene" or "the nine inch penis gene" we'll have it made.

Re:Lewontin's fallacy (1)

aXis100 (690904) | about 4 years ago | (#33756444)

I know it's traditional to not RTFA, but did you not even RTF Summary?

Provable Freak (1)

giantism_strikes (1887188) | about 4 years ago | (#33758702)

It's good to know that science can definitively prove why I'm a freak. Father - 6'0", Mother - 6'0", Me - 6'10"...

But will it help tackle height discrimination? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33764164)

All very interesting, but will it help tackle height discrimination? There is now plenty of evidence that people are treated differently on the grounds of stature, and in many different and often profound ways.

Obviously people are of different heights, but what matters is that we live in a society where it simply doesn't affect the way you're treated.

Height is an example of other complex traits (1)

Lhooqtoo (876551) | about 4 years ago | (#33875720)

The reason that people are paying attention to hight is, in part, that it's a simply measured complex trait. Every study of human genetics under the sun collects basic anthropometrics, and so it's relatively easy to lump everyone together in an effort to increase the power to detect genetic variation that influences height. I think the real interesting part here is that even after collecting a hundred thousand data points, the obvious data analysis methods can account for a relatively low proportion of the total variance in height. That has consequences for studies of other disease traits with complex genetic architecture like diabetes or schizophrenia, which have often have study sizes one or two orders of magnitude lower than this one. In the not so recent past, influential members of the scientific community have suggested that big studies of complex traits in humans might have a profound impact on bedside medical decisions. It's going to take a bit longer than they anticipated. To our collective dismay, biology is still complicated.
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